Chivas USA-Earthquakes Preview
Coming off a year in which they won their second Supporters' Shield, the San Jose Earthquakes' 2013 season has been a disappointment.
They hadn't posted back-to-back victories all year until winning the last two, even without their star player.
They'll get Chris Wondolowski back Saturday night as they aim for a third straight victory in a home tilt with lowly Chivas USA.
Two straight wins are the most by San Jose (7-9-6) since a three-match winning streak Aug. 25-Sept. 15 on the way to finishing with last year's best regular-season record. Both victories came at home, improving the Earthquakes to 6-1-4 Buck Shaw Stadium this year - the only loss being a 2-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake in the opener.
San Jose dealt Portland just its third defeat of the season with a 2-1 win last Saturday. Though the Earthquakes sit second-to-last in the Western Conference - 10 points ahead of last-place Chivas (4-12-5) - they're separated from a playoff spot by five points.
"In soccer, when you've got the momentum, then you can win three or four games, that puts you right back up there," former Premier League veteran Jordan Stewart told the team's official website after putting a shot on goal in his first match for San Jose.
Now, the Earthquakes will have Wondolowski back at their disposal after the striker helped the U.S. win the Gold Cup. The Earthquakes' leading scorer with five goals despite missing the last five matches, Wondolowski was scoreless in his last five MLS matches before leaving for national team duty. Perhaps he can carry some momentum from his Gold Cup performance after tallying five goals through five appearances.
Wondolowski has scored seven times in his last eight matches against Chivas, including a goal in a 2-2 draw at Chivas on April 27.
The league's reigning Golden Boot winner, Wondolowski will look to take advantage of a Chivas side that has surrendered 37 goals, the most in MLS.
Chivas is 1-7-3 on the road and followed its first win in 15 matches with a 2-1 loss at Seattle on Sunday. Erick Torres scored his second goal in as many MLS matches in the 15th minute, but the club squandered a 1-0 lead.
"In the first half, Chivas couldn't have gotten a better result, in my opinion," coach Jose Luis Real said. "In the second half, however, we played differently. During the second half, we lost a lot of the balls and the possession of the ball. That was the main defect that we had."
Alan Gordon will not be able to participate in his first match since July 13 for San Jose after returning from Gold Cup action due to yellow card accumulation. He has seven goals and two assists in his last 13 matches versus Chivas.
Chivas holds a 6-5-6 edge in the all-time series despite a 26-20 goal differential in favor of San Jose, but is 0-2-2 in the last four meetings.